Business owner with smart meter receives $13,000+ Consumers Energy bill

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GRANDVILLE, Mich. --  A Grandville business owner's massive Consumers Energy bill was dropped after he mentioned that he called the FOX 17 Problem Solvers and complained to the state.

Ronald Hite runs C&R Mobile Wash, a power washing business in Grandville.   He's only had the business for a month, and says he risked it all to start it.

"All my savings...and I actually had an aunt help with all the investments," he said.

Hite said a bill like the one he received from Consumers would have basically ruined his new business.

"I went to the owner that owns this building and showed him the bill.  And they have six of these buildings and they have never seen a bill get this high," he said.  "Like the highest bill $200, $250 a month depending on how much they use on electricity."

His bill for a 29 day billing period was $13,628.79.   He called Consumers Energy, believing it was all just a big mistake.

He says he was told the smart meters don't lie. Consumers has told FOX 17 on numerous occasions that the estimated high bills from old analog meters would be solved by the installation of smart meters, but Hite had a smart meter, and this is the largest bill FOX 17 has seen from a viewer.

Consumers Energy had a change of heart when Hite mentioned the Problem Solvers.

"Within 24 hours I got a call saying it was a clerical error," Hite said.

Hite's bill was dropped to about $39.

Consumers said they have only had one other account of a smart meter having this problem.

The company issued the following statement about Hite's case:

In this case, our system controls failed us and an inaccurately calculated bill was sent to our customer. We have apologized to Mr. Hite and recalculated his bill. We are also reviewing our system controls to prevent any similar issues in the future.

FOX 17 reached out to the state who said the call center at the Michigan Agency for Energy did hear from Hite regarding the issue.

The Michigan Agency for Energy's call center does track the number of calls regarding smart meters.  However, it does not keep track of calls related just to inaccurate bills and smart meters. From January to March of this year, the call center received 3,259 contacts overall, and 57 of those were smart meter contacts.

 

 

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7 comments

  • Kevin Rahe

    Probably a faulty meter, even though Consumers Energy shouldn’t have been so quick the dismiss that possibility.
    A bigger problem with smart meters, though, is that customers have no way to control the detail or retention of data that essentially reveals their family’s lifestyle and comings and goings, even when it’s not needed to either bill them or provide them with service. This is not in keeping with the Voluntary Code of Conduct published last year by the US Department of Energy ( http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/01/f19/VCC%20Concepts%20and%20Principles%202015_01_08%20FINAL.pdf ), which says, among other things, that “Service Providers should securely and irreversibly dispose of or de-identify Customer Data once it is reasonably determined by the Service Provider to be no longer necessary to achieve the purposes for which it was collected, unless they are under a legal obligation to do otherwise.”
    It is in everyone’s interest to get more engaged in this matter than people have been, however. It’s clear to me that Consumers Energy in particular is for whatever reason not very interested in following the US DOE’s recommendation. They will need some pressure to do so, which can only come from us.

    • smartmetereducation

      Do you know about House Bill 4916, the Analog Choice Bill? See the Smart Meter Education Network website for more info.

  • Sid

    This is a very SMART practice…for Consumers. Not everyone is SMART enough to realize that something is wrong when they get a bigger bill, because it is ALWAYS a bigger bill. ONly when it is excessively out of line like this does it become obvious. But a few dollars extra on 70% of the SMART meters out there is not likely to get noticed. And since there is nobody policing Consumers, they can get away with millions in illegal profits.

  • Bob

    I have a smart meter. It seemed to work great for a long time. I check my usage every morning and it was almost always the same. For the last few weeks I have one day when the reading is about average and the next day the reading is extremely high. I contacted Consumer Power and of course they assure me the meter is working fine. I don’t think it is.

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